In Pennsylvania, a law called the Landlord/Tenant Act tells landlords what
they must do to evict a tenant. The landlord has to follow this law no matter
the reason for the eviction. (This law may not apply if you are staying in a
rooming or boarding home, or are a guest in a hotel/motel.)
If the landlord tries to evict you without following the Landlord/Tenant Act,
by doing something such as changing the locks or shutting off your utilities,
you should contact the Office of Consumer Protection for assistance at (814)
871-4371 or 1-800-441-2555.
The Landlord/Tenant Act requires your landlord to give you a written eviction
notice. This notice must be a 10-day notice if he/she is evicting you for
nonpayment of rent, or 15 days if the eviction is for breach of the lease or end
of lease term. However, the Landlord/Tenant Act allows the notice
requirements to be changed or waived completely if you and your landlord agree
to do so in a written lease. After the notice period is over, the landlord
must go to the Magisterial District Judge and file a Landlord/Tenant Complaint.
The Magisterial District Judge’s office will schedule a hearing in 7 to 15 days
from the date the complaint is filed. You will receive notice of the date and
time for the hearing. The landlord may ask for possession of the property, money
for unpaid rent and damages to the property, if any, at the hearing.
The Magisterial District Judge will make a decision, either at the hearing,
or within 3 days after the hearing. You will be sent a copy of the decision,
called a judgment, in the mail. If the Magisterial District Judge grants
possession of your home to the landlord, the landlord must wait 10 days from the
date the judgment is entered and then go back to the Magisterial District Judge
to get an Order for Possession. You will be given a copy of the Order for
Possession by a constable or sheriff's deputy. The Order for Possession will
tell you the date you have to move. That date cannot be less than 10 days from
the day the Order for Possession is issued. If you haven't moved by the date set
forth in the Order for Possession a constable or sheriff's deputy will forcibly
remove you at that time.
Your landlord must give you a written eviction notice before he or she can start
a legal action to evict you, unless you have a written lease and the lease says
what kind of an eviction notice, if any, the landlord must give you. If there is
no written lease or a written lease does not discuss notice, the Landlord/Tenant
Act provides the following notice requirements.
1. If the eviction is NOT for failure to pay rent, the landlord
must give you 15 days notice if the lease is for 1 year or less, and 30 days
notice if the lease is for more than 1 year. If the eviction is for
nonpayment of rent, the landlord must give you 10 days notice. Remember, a
written lease can waive or change these notice requirements.
2. The notice must be in writing and given to you in person or by posting
on the door of your residence.
3. The notice must give the reason for eviction. If there is no written
lease, the reason for eviction can be simply that the landlord has decided
not to renew the lease.
4. If the notice does not follow the law, you can ask the Magisterial
District Judge, at the eviction hearing, to dismiss the Landlord/Tenant
Complaint filed by the landlord. If the Magisterial District Judge dismisses
the complaint, the landlord must then give you a proper eviction notice
before filing a new Landlord/Tenant Complaint.
Remember, you can agree to waive your right to the eviction notice described
in the Landlord/Tenant Act. Therefore, it is important to read any lease you are
being asked to sign very carefully. You may not want to sign the lease if it
requires you to waive your right to notice under the Landlord/Tenant Act.
Brochure Updated: January 2008
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